Creating a Bully-free Workplace Culture

By definition, workplace bullying means any behavior that is “repeated, systematic and directed toward an employee or group of employees that a reasonable person, having regard to the circumstances, would expect to victimize, humiliate, undermine or threaten, and which creates a risk to health.”

Key findings from the June 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute U.S. survey indicated that over 60 million Americans are affected by bullying (19% are bullied and another 19% witness it). 

The culture of a workplace is comprised of its values, beliefs and what is considered to be normal behavior. When the culture is positive, it encourages individuals to adopt appropriate behaviors that promote respect of others. Conversely, a negative culture is one where inappropriate behaviors and attitudes are encouraged or condoned by management and bullying is seen as normal and accepted behavior.

As leaders of people and organizations, we are obligated to provide a safe physical space for employees. We also need to ensure their psychological safety in a work capacity, by creating environments in which employees feel accepted and respected. 

A bully-free workplace culture requires proactive leadership in the following ways:

Hire management in line with organizational values, as well as demonstrated leadership experience and strong interpersonal skills.

  • At all opportunities, reinforce core values of the organization.
  • Ensure there are established anti-bullying policies and grievance procedures in place, and staff are trained on these policies regularly.
  • Educate all staff on how to identify bullying.
  • Investigate all complaints, and document the issues raised and take appropriate actions.
  • Implement changes if necessary to avoid future recurrences.

When it comes to workplace bullying, it’s worth remembering, “What you permit, you promote. What you allow, you encourage. What you condone, you own.”

Kristen Green is the executive general manager of Aquafit. 

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